Our Mountain Retreat

The story of a couple who loved the wild beauty and chilly climate of Montana so much they created their own mountain retreat: a B&B near Glacier National Park.

| August/September 2006

My husband, Hunter, and I live outside Columbia Falls, Montana in a mountain retreat we’ve established at the edge of Glacier National Park. We arrived here three years ago with a simple goal: to live a quiet, self-reliant life in this beautiful natural environment.

Most people I know think we’re crazy for moving to this cold climate. I grew up in south Florida, and Hunter lived on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands for 20 years. But, quite frankly, I’d had enough after spending the first half of my life in a hot, humid place and weathering 15 hurricanes — several while I lived aboard a sailboat. Hunter feels the same way I do about heat and hurricanes. We met on St. Croix shortly after it was devastated by Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

Hunter has a background in the wine and restaurant industries, and I’ve had several careers: archaeologist, paralegal, editor, commodity futures trader, freelance writer and photographer. We came to Montana in the summer of 2003, when I applied for an archivist position in Glacier. The person who held the position decided at the last moment to keep it, but we did not learn this until after we arrived in Montana. Both Hunter and I really wanted to stay for the summer, so we started looking for seasonal work. We were hired to work in one of the park’s gift shops and spent all our free time exploring the park and falling in love with its million acres of pristine Rocky Mountain wilderness. When summer was over, we spent the rest of the year traveling, but Glacier kept calling to us. We returned the next summer to work in the gift shop and decided to stay.

Running a Bed-and-Breakfast

That winter we found the perfect house. We discovered it on a cold day, when the house was deserted and the snow was so deep we had to slowly break a path to the front door. We both had the same thought — this would make a perfect bed-and-breakfast. Neither of us had ever contemplated owning a B&B, but it just seemed natural. Moss Mountain Inn was born.

The inn is a four-bedroom cedar home that overlooks the peaks of Glacier and sits on 11 acres in the Flathead National Forest, by the wild and scenic North Fork of the Flathead River. Our slice of mountain heaven is a mix of forest and meadow with a series of natural ponds. The property is small by Montana standards, but it’s more land than I had ever dreamed of owning.

We immediately started working on the house. B&B guests don’t like sharing a bathroom, so we turned one of the four bedrooms into a bathroom, leaving us with two guest suites. We also did a few cosmetic renovations, including redoing the countertops, and painting many of the rooms to add some color to the mostly off-white interior. We were open for business by June.

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